Be Not of the “So What!” Persuasion

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21 KJV).

As the Christmas Season winds down, we remind ourselves to be thankful saints, not spoiled brats.

Having recently witnessed ungrateful children unwrap their numerous Christmas presents, and then whine in dissatisfaction, I could not help but think of today’s Scripture. Most of mankind shares this unthankful attitude when it concerns God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. They willfully trample the energy, time, and funds used to purchase the gifts!

Before God gave up the Gentile nations of Genesis chapters 1-11, and before He began to form the nation Israel in Genesis chapter 12, He had given Gentiles 2,000 years to approach Him by faith and to accomplish His purpose on earth. Nevertheless, the Gentiles (nations) wanted nothing to do with God. Hence, God chose Abraham to be His servant, to be the father of a new nation, Israel, a people He could use to fulfill His will on earth. Today’s Scripture describes the Gentiles while God dealt with Abraham and his seed—they had empty, worthless thoughts and callous, unbelieving hearts (today’s Scripture). This spiritual darkness plagues much of mankind even today!

Sadly, Israel was just as unthankful and unbelieving toward God as the Gentiles were! They worshipped and served the same silly idols, they wallowed in the same spiritual ignorance, and they too were content in leading vain, godless lives. They had a chance to know the God of heaven and earth, but they spurned that opportunity to worship and serve everything else. Let us not be as foolish, dear readers.

Let us always be thankful that God was gracious enough to “love the unlovely,” to “give heaven’s best to save earth’s worst,” to “offer heaven to those who deserve hell,” and to “give life to the dead.” Let us not treat lightly the high price of eternal life—the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. God offers eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. Let us open that gift by simple faith, avoiding the “So what!” persuasion.

Brethren, Pray for Us

Friday, November 2, 2012

“Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25 KJV).

Today’s Scripture exhorts us to pray for our Christian brethren, and we beseech you to especially pray for this ministry.

Saints, I hope you do not mind, but I must share with you what has been on my heart for these past few weeks (and several months). It is very difficult to express in words, but I have endured (and am still enduring) one of the most heart-wrenching issues life affords. The issue, whose details God knows, has hindered this ministry for nearly 18 months now. From the very beginning, I tried my absolute best to handle it Scripturally, hoping to avoid the disastrous outcome that nevertheless came to fruition.

In short, dear readers, I want to take this opportunity to counsel with you, in hopes that you will spare your Christian brethren the emotional, spiritual, and mental turmoil that troubles me still. I beseech you to take the utmost care in the words you say and the deeds you do, especially to your grace brethren in Christ. The lost world is certainly unkind to us Christians. Why must we too “consume one another?” When we do it to the Christian brethren, we do it to Christ!!!!

We Christians always have forgiveness at Christ’s cross, but the damage we do to our Christian brethren does not magically disappear. We can never take back those harsh words. Thus, let us exercise great care in what words we speak, especially to our grace brethren in Christ. Let us prayerfully meditate on the rightly divided King James Bible before we make rash decisions we will later regret. We do and will make mistakes, but if we persist in those mistakes, we really have not grasped what grace living is all about.

Grace living is not sinless living, but letting God’s grace transform you, and allowing it to correct you when you do make mistakes. Selfishness, bitterness, and bickering are inconsistent with God’s grace to us in Christ; consequently, they do not belong in our lives. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Walking in the Spirit #4

Sunday, October 7, 2012

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24,25 KJV).

Now that we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we have a new identity, and this identity should impact our lifestyles for God’s glory.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness [sexual lustfulness], idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance [strife, fighting], emulations [jealous quarrels], wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings [drunken, disorderly feasts], and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (verses 19-21). (The use of the pronoun “they” instead of “we” indicates that Christians are not being spoken of here. These are lost people, who have no choice but to sin, to walk in their Adamic nature.)

Our old sin nature produces the above sins. However, we Christians have a new nature in Christ, and it too produces fruit. Rather than sins, it produces the righteousness the Law demanded: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (verses 22,23). Contrast this with verses 19-21, and then re-read today’s Scripture. We have life in Christ: this life is not our old, self-centered life (verses 19-21), but it is selfless, seeking the benefit of others (verses 22,23).

The indwelling Holy Spirit works in us believers to generate “the fruit of the Spirit,” which is called “the fruits of righteousness” in Philippians 1:9-11: “And this I pray, that ye may [be] filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”

When we walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of God’s Word to us, Paul’s epistles, we “walk in the Spirit,” who will take that sound doctrine and produce the life of Jesus Christ in us (today’s Scripture). This will bring God glory and praise.

Walking in the Spirit #2

Friday, October 5, 2012

“And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24,25 KJV).

Now that we have trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, we have a new identity, and this identity should impact our lifestyles for God’s glory.

Sadly, it is often assumed—even by some professing grace believers—that grace is a license to sin. Since “[we] are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14b), some erroneously conclude that we are free to live any way we want. Verse 15 cautions us, “What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid [May God never let that happen!!].” God’s grace teaches us to “[deny] ungodliness and worldly lusts” and it teaches us to live “soberly, righteously, and godly” (Titus 2:12).

In Galatians 5:13, we are exhorted: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Christ has made us free from the burden of the Mosaic Law, the “yoke of bondage” (verse 1), a system of rules we could never keep, but this does not mean that God does not care how we live.

We are not under Israel’s performance-based acceptance system. Nevertheless, grace teaches us that God fulfills in us believers the righteousness the Law demanded. Never should we abuse God’s grace by using it “for an occasion to the flesh;” grace should never be (ab)used to promote selfish living (preferring to serve sin rather than serve God and fellow Christians). Verses 14,15: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.”

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (verse 16). We have new life in Christ, and when we by faith let Him live His life in us, we will not live sinfully and selfishly (today’s Scripture).

The Remaining Two-Thirds

Saturday, September 29, 2012

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34 KJV).

On average, you will spend one-third of your life sleeping. Of what will the remaining two-thirds of your earthly life consist?

In the context of today’s Scripture, it is noontime, and Jesus is tired from traveling, so He rests in Samaria by sitting on Jacob’s well (verses 5,6). His disciples have gone into nearby Sychar to buy food, and while He waits for their return, He speaks with a Samaritan woman who comes to draw water from the well (verses 7-26). (The Samaritans are not full-blooded Jews, so they and Israel usually do not associate with each other; see verse 9.)

As their conversation proceeds, the Samaritan woman learns that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah (verses 25,26). She quickly goes to the city to tell them of Jesus, and she comes back to Jesus with additional Samaritans (verses 28-30). Before they come to Jesus, His disciples finally return, and urge Him to eat (verse 31). The Lord replies, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of” (verse 32). His disciples then ask in verse 33: “Hath any man brought him aught to eat?”

Today’s Scripture is our Lord’s answer. The very thing for which He lives is not physical food: “My meat is to do the will of him [God the Father] that sent me, and to finish His work.” Our Lord has in mind the salvation of these Samaritans: “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (verse 35). Essentially, He is saying, “Look at the harvest of those souls!” (cf. Matthew 9:36,37). Later, many Samaritans believe on Christ, and He dwells with them two days (verses 39-43).

Saints, our Lord was consumed with fulfilling the work to which His heavenly Father had appointed Him. Can we say that about the remaining two-thirds of our lives? Are we walking by faith in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, allowing God to fulfill His will in us? Or, are we spiritually sleeping, doing nothing (Ephesians 5:14)?

333’s 400th: Liberty to Publish God’s Word

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 KJV).

Today we commemorate the United States’ 236th anniversary and our 400th devotional.

Just as we Americans celebrate our nation’s birthday and independence today on this Fourth of July, we Christians worldwide reflect on the “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free [from sin, death, hell, and the condemnation of the Mosaic Law]” (Galatians 5:1).

Moreover, God our Father has entrusted us with the ministry of sharing with the lost world the spiritual freedom we have found exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our role in the Christian ambassadorship is to publish God’s pure (unadulterated) Word, the Holy Bible. Whether preaching and teaching it rightly divided, or translating and literally printing it, “The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it” (Psalm 68:11).

God, through His Son’s finished crosswork on Calvary, has freed us from the bondage of the Law and sin. Christ’s blood has “redeemed” us, and it is our responsibility to tell others of that “redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). The lost and dying souls of the world need to hear the words of Jesus Christ, the words that “are spirit and… [that] are life” (John 6:63b). They need to hear about the eternal life found only in Jesus Christ. They need to hear it from us, God’s people!

God’s grace has saved us, not so we could live any way we want (we were doing that before God’s grace saved us!). We should use our liberty in Christ to “by love serve on another” (today’s Scripture). God’s love motivates us to teach Holy Spirit-indwelt (but denominational) Christians Pauline dispensational Bible study, and to preach to the lost world God’s saving grace in Christ (Paul’s Gospel of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Saints, as we reach another milestone, we thank you for your continued prayer for this ministry. And, we thank our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us liberty to publish God’s Word….

Lord willing, on to #500. 🙂

You can also see our 2011 Fourth of July study “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land,” which can be watched here or read here.

A Caring Apostle Not Cared For

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

“Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28 KJV).

In today’s Scripture, we glimpse into the heart of our Apostle Paul, and what an amazing sight we behold!

Preceding today’s Scripture, Paul described the suffering he experienced for being God’s apostle of us Gentiles:

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes [whippings] above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one [195 scourgings!]. Thrice [Three times] was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep [stranded in the sea]; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen [Jews], in perils by the heathen [Gentiles], in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (verses 23-27).

False teachers and apostles were turning the Corinthians against Paul, so becoming highly critical of Paul’s bodily appearance and his apostleship (see 2 Corinthians chapters 10 and 11). The epistle of 2 Corinthians defends Paul’s apostleship. Today’s Scripture (and its context quoted above) is Paul’s defense: my sufferings for the Gospel demonstrate that I am a genuine apostle of Jesus Christ! Unfortunately, like most professing Christians today, the Corinthians needed to appreciate the special ministry the ascended Lord Jesus Christ gave to Paul.

What Paul wrote in today’s Scripture summarizes the attitude that every Christian should have: “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Paul did not focus on his own troubling circumstances: He was too busy daily wondering about the wellbeing of the saints who were saved under his ministry. What dedication and selflessness!

Saints, let us thank God daily for sending “faithful” Paul to us Gentiles….